Archbishop Fulton Sheen, one of the great evangelists of the Church in America and a candidate for sainthood, once wrote the following:
“Every priest, when he goes before the Lord for judgment, will be asked, ‘Where are your children?’ The vocation of the priest is primarily to beget souls in Christ.”
This is a profound statement. The priest, though not a father by means of physical generation, is most definitely called to be a father by spiritual generation. By his preaching, teaching and example, the priest is to bring to birth in Christ immortal souls. What a privilege! What a solemn responsibility! But although he is given this privilege and responsibility in a unique and particularly vital way, the priest is not alone in being called to beget souls for the Lord. Listen to the words of Christ himself:
“It was not you who chose me, but I who chose you and appointed you to go and bear fruit that will remain (John 15:16).”
Think hard on those words. Just as the Lord has appointed me to bear fruit (beget souls) through the priesthood, so has he called you, through your state in life, to do the same. For his Gospel to spread and for his Kingdom to flourish, Jesus Christ chooses to “need” you and me. Yes we are sinners, yes we may be afraid and uncertain, yes our gifts may seem insignificant, but none of that matters. God has chosen me and he has chosen you. Amazing!
If you are a high school kid who plays in the band and tries to get to church every Sunday, you have been chosen to bring souls to Christ. If you are a high school kid who has no musical talent whatsoever and rarely gets to church, still you are called to bring souls to birth in Christ (so get to church). If you are a college student trying to survive financially, socially and academically, “bringing friends to know Jesus” is also on your list of responsibilities. If you are a young adult basking in the glow of your first real job, bringing others to Christ should be a part of your life too. If you are a spouse and parent, stretched to the limit in every way possible, you are nonetheless called to be a begetter of Christ. Whoever you are, wherever you are, you are called to bear fruit for God’s Kingdom.
Fr. Larry Richards often asks, “How many people have you brought to Christ?” Then he also asks, “And how many people have you brought to Satan?” You and I would do well to reflect on those questions ourselves. Am I indeed bringing others to Christ by who I am, what I say and what I do? Or am I bearing fruit for the kingdom of darkness?
What joy to bring a friend into the arms of Jesus! What fulfillment to help a lost soul find peace! What a humbling thought to realize that others may be in heaven because of our efforts to love Jesus! “I have chosen you,” says the Lord, “and appointed you to go and bear fruit.”
Be assured of my prayers,